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In 2005 I worked with Richard Loranger on his book Poems for Teeth (We Press), a mammoth endeavor that includes a lengthy poem for each of the 32 adult human teeth. In Richard’s reading of the mouth, each tooth takes on a particular quality, such as the Tooth of Alert (Upper Right 1st Incisor) or the Tooth of Grieving (Lower Right 1st Molar). For this to make sense, you need to read the book, and you should promptly obtain a copy.
Though I helped a bit with technical matters and provided a word here and there, my main role was to splash out a heap of gestural ink drawings to accompany Richard’s literary wonder. Brushes, hard Bristol paper, black ink. He made quite a few more, working with the same materials, and selected his and my drawings for print based on his own emotional reactions and perceived imagery, each image chosen to complement the texture and tenor of its accompanying poem. It was a continually surprising process, as what he saw often differed from my own responses, and I came to see my own work differently as we moved along.
The images that made it to press were tightly bound with the text (so to speak), and many other drawings came out of the process that simply didn’t fit the project. Certain of the pictures that didn’t make it in are stronger to me as individual images than some of the ones that were printed. I’ve been carrying boxes of drawings around the country, and this is a step toward finally showing and sharing this secret corpus.
“Teeth for Poems,” I call this “block” of drawings. Above, you’ll see a few selections, but there are quite a few more to come as I find time for the chore of photographing them. Time’s more than a little scarce, with a movie to finish. If you urgently want to see more, say so in a comment, to put a little pressure on me. Start thinking about whether you’d like to own one of these drawings for keeps.
Play around with the slideshow-thing above. You can make it stop, go, and click inside, then outside the image to make the “navigation bar” disappear, etc.
Go to http://www.wepress.org/loranger (including the link to an excerpt) to get a sense of the brilliance and truly alarming, vicious, compassionate strangeness of Richard Loranger’s work.